- Ntozake Shange, author of for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf
"An essential writer of our current moment."
- Lambda Literary Judith A. Markowitz Award judges' citation
Blue Talk and Love tells the stories of girls and women of color navigating the moods and mazes of urban daily life. Set in various enclaves of New York City—including the middle-class Hamilton Heights section of Harlem, the black queer social world of the West Village, the Spanish-speaking borderland between Harlem and Washington Heights, and historic Tin Pan Alley—the collection uses magic realism, historical fiction, satire and more to highlight young black women's inner lives. The storylines range widely: a big-bodied teenage girl from Harlem discovers her sexuality in the midst of racial tensions at her Upper East Side school; four young women from Newark, New Jersey, are charged with assaulting the man who threatens to rape them; a pair of conjoined black female twins born into slavery, make their fame as stage performers in the Big City. In each story, the characters push past what is expected of them, learning to celebrate their voices and their lives.
PRAISE FOR BLUE TALK AND LOVE
"Sullivan’s prose shocks, intrigues, and transports us through fourteen artful and unique stories. And so do her rich and inimitable characters, most of them young black women struggling in a world they did not make but one they must confront, tear down, and remake. Black girls matter and Sullivan shows us just how much."
—Cheryl Clarke, author of Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women and Living as a Lesbian
"In a prose as rich and sumptuous as brocade, these stories hit with the force of primal myths. They can be tender, they can be funny, and they can shock. This is a book that grabs you low on the spinal column and rattles your teeth together. Sullivan is a powerful and impressive writer."
—Samuel R. Delany, author of Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders
“Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is a sharp social observer as well as a bold experimentalist. She has an arresting ear and a courageous heart. Her language races with her intelligence and humanity.”
—Darryl Pinckney, author of High Cotton and Out There: Mavericks of Black Fiction
"Mecca Jamilah Sullivan's debut collection of fiction dazzles with images, language and heart. She slips inside her characters and renders their inner lives with painterly precision so with each story we enter a complete world drawn with brilliant color and raw emotion. Yet it is the mystery of life itself which she evokes so strongly and that holds us fast."
—Jewelle Gomez, author The Gilda Stories
“Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s debut story collection is a remarkable work best described as elegiac blues… Blue Talk and Lovestuns with subtle imagery, powerful linguistic energy, and chiseled, innovative control.”
—LaShonda Katrice Barnett, author of Jam on the Vine
“Blue Talk and Love’s voice, despite material that seems frankly contemporary, is paradoxically lyrical, nearly Faulknerian."
—Rick Moody, American Short Fiction Short Story Contest judge
“Tender, blunt, joyous, angry, indomitable—these are a few words to describe the characters inhabiting Mecca Sullivan’s deeply felt first collection. Humanity is defined and redefined by women who strive not only to survive, but to flourish, motivated by one of literature’s greatest ingredients: yearning. “We are women whose names mean things,” one character informs us. Reading Sullivan’s stories, we are struck by the layers of meaning and emotional honesty abiding in those very words.”
—Carolyn Ferrell, author of Don’t Erase Me